Member Since: 07 May 2015
Vredestein Wintrac Xtreme
I made a decision in December to fit a set of winter tyres to my Discovery 4 and chose a set of Wintrac Xtreme. Winter tyres are in my view like an insurance policy: you invest in it, you know it's there in case you need it but you don't really look forward to use its benefits unless it's really necessary to file a claim. Fast forward to the end of Feb 2018 with plummeting temperatures that went down as low as -7C and a relatively generous snowfall which covered the hilly roads that I normally drive in my daily school and shopping runs.
My previous experience driving a car with winter tyres was in Russia, where I was given a >200bhp V6 4x4 with a set of studded Nokian tyres (I can't remember which ones exactly but you get the idea). I took the car to a large and empty HGV parking lot covered in compact snow (outside temperature was circa -15C) and tested acceleration and breaking. Brilliant! My impression was that if you drive normally without trying to do silly things you can drive almost as you would normally do say down a wet road.
When I fitted my Wintrac Xtreme to my Disco, I had no opportunity to run such test, however with the tyres new I tried it in heavy rain on the London's M25 at 70mph and I have to say I wasn't overly impressed by the cheesy feeling. However, other than that, the tyres felt comfortable, a bit softer than the Goodyear Wrnagler that they replaced, ok on turns, not noisy at all at motorway speed, responsive when breaking but not as much as the Goodyear set. Fine for my personal needs. I read around and found people saying that you need to run a few hundreds miles on the Wintrac to get a more decent overall performance, we'll see.
But now, this week we had snow and on my way back from the school one morning I went up the usual way on a road which is probably graded slightly more than 10%. The car went up without hesitation. As I drove further up I found a guy in a small hatchback stuck in a less steep part of the road with two wheels off the road in a small ditch. He accepted my offer to help, I tied a towing rope to his car and to my rear towing ring, switched to the low transfer gearbox (the first time in three years) and pulled him out with no effort at all and no perceived wheel skidding. The road was banked and covered in snow. I towed him a few hundred metres up and he was over the moon.
Two days later, same road but closer to the 10% gradient I find another bloke in another mid-sized hatchback. Same story as above but the conditions were worse as when I stepped out of the car my hiking boots felt like a pair of skates. Still, the guy needed help and if I left him there he could have spent a few hours in the car with the outside temperature down to -4C. He was actually concerned that it I tried to tow him out I would also skid in the ditch and be stuck, I accepted this risk and proceeded to attach the towing rope. As above, the cars moved up this steeper hill no problem at all. It felt as if my wheels were on tarmac. Wow! This was impressive.
This afternoon we had the last snowfall. When I left the train station, no car was able to drive up the hill but I went up as if the road conditions were just normal. After reaching home, at the top of the hill, I had to quickly dash to a nearby little town which meant going down the hill again, crossing a valley and then go up the hill again. The traffic was now gridlock, the easy roads were quickly closed by the local police and the only way to get to my destination was to go up a snow-covered small road which I believe has a 14% gradient. The car went up no problem; I then drove down in the opposite direction, equally easily, with no difficulty and without ever engaging the ABS downhill.
The only thing I haven't tried is adherence on a sheet of ice however in all the other snowy conditions these tyres felt and demonstrated to be truly impressive. Maybe not exactly as good as the studded Nokian, but I think I can confidently say they were 80% as good - which is very impressive indeed.
I'd like to conclude by saying that fitting a set of winter tyre when the season turns cold will leave you with no regret and will give you the peace of mind you need in challenging conditions. I don't know how a set of AT tyres would have performed in the conditions described above, I hope someone with experience using AT tyres in winter will be able to compare their experience with mine - it would be really useful.
Two or three years ago some guys in this forum gave me some advice in regard to the purchase of a tow bar and I found the information they gave me very helpful. I hope this post will help someone else making a decision on whether or not to buy a set of winter tyres for the cold season.
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